Keen to work, but surplus miners must wait in hostels until lockdown level 3

Mineworkers who returned to work at Harmony Gold Mine but who are not needed while the mine operates at 50% capacity have been advised to stay in their hostels until the government announces the move to lockdown level 3.
Mineworkers who returned to work at Harmony Gold Mine but who are not needed while the mine operates at 50% capacity have been advised to stay in their hostels until the government announces the move to lockdown level 3.
Image: tomas1111/ 123rf.com

Mineworkers who went back to their workplaces when they heard about the easing of lockdown restrictions are now in a waiting pattern until level 3 of the lockdown kicks in.

They are confined to their hostels as they do not fall within the critical skills parameters permitted under government rules, says their employer, Harmony Gold Mine.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) earlier claimed 60 workers at the Kusalethu mine in Carletonville had been stranded for at least a week.

In a statement, Numsa's Oupa Ralake said the mineworkers have no money to return home after the mining house called them back to work. Harmony disputes this.

“Unfortunately, when they arrived they were informed there was no space for them to work because the mine had exceeded its capacity. It is allowed to operate only at 50% capacity, and already the number of employees required was above 60%.

“With nowhere to go, workers have no choice but to remain in the hostels. They were promised transport back to their homes but this has not materialised. They have been stranded for more than a week and would prefer to go home because there they can practise social distancing,” Ralake said.

Numsa claimed workers had not received their full salaries for April.

Sihle Maake, spokesperson for Harmony Gold Mine, disputed the allegations.

“The employees mentioned are those who had not been recalled but returned to the mine anyway when the travel amnesty was granted until May 7.

They don’t possess the critical skills currently required at the operation, which is still working at the reduced capacity of not more than 50%, as per the government regulations.

“They were advised to remain at the hostel pending the government’s change to level 3,” Maake said.

Maake said Harmony has adopted stringent measures to fight Covid-19 at its operations. Its processes, which have been audited by the government, are aligned with world health regulations, he said.

Regarding the allegation about salaries, Maake said all employees were paid their full April salaries.

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